Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Immigration Fury: one of many cliches you believe - that are “opposite to true”

Not far from where I live, demonstrators in Murrieta California have been blocking a facility designated to hold families and children who were recently intercepted attempting to cross illegally into the United States.  The demonstrators' chief effect -- (other than keeping kids on stifling busses for a few hours, till other centers came online) -- was to make a noisy statement about the recent flood of young border crossers. 

Fair enough. That border youth-surge apparently arose when commercial "coyote" crossing-traffickers discovered and publicized a glitch in the Bush era immigration law, treating children with more legal niceties than adults. The Obama Administration is scurrying to adjust and staunch the flood. But such details are not my reason for raising the topic, today. 

In fact --

-- the sound and fury over illegal immigration to the United States has put me in a rebellious and contrary frame of mind! I intend to upset everyone... from left to right... by pointing out that everything you believe about this issue is probably wrong. 

Indeed, what you believe -- about who is better at defending the U.S. border, and maybe a dozen other major issues -- may be diametrically opposite to true!

== Our previous example of an "opposite" ==
This contradiction re immigration (which I'll get to, in a moment) isn't the only one.  Amid an era in which "discourse" consists primarily of argument-by-facebook-jpegs, I got a lot of positive vibe for an elegantly clear graphic, a while back, showing that the U.S. budget deficit suffers a positive 2nd-Derivative (2D) — that accelerates toward skyrocketing debt — during almost every year of every Republican administration since Eisenhower. 

In sharp contrast — and contrary to every “truthy” slogan we’ve been taught — the 2D of federal deficit spending improves or decelerates during almost every year of every Democratic presidential term.

Why are our basic assumptions so perfectly opposite to actual fact? Both parties have "rhetoric constituencies" -- armies of reflexive voters who have no influence over actual legislation, but who must be told what they want to hear! Even if it is completely different than the effective agenda of the party's true rulers.

In the case of fiscal responsibility, this clash is obvious. Progressives, clutching a long laundry list of causes that need addressing right now, don't want to be told that borrowing must be handled judiciously and responsibly. So their party's record of actual fiscal prudery is something that Democratic leaders scarcely mention. And it is pretty obvious why GOP leaders want to talk loudly about balancing budgets, to distract Republican ground troops from their actual record, pouring deficit spending into the open mouths of the party's owners.

US-ExportImportBank-Seal2Or take another glaring example in today's news. The right's sudden attack upon the U.S. Export-Import Bank.  Mind you, as a Smithian libertarian, I actually dislike the institution, whose primary justification is that "every other country is doing it and we'll cripple ourselves, if we stop."  

Hm, well, I would make it a high priority to treaty-negotiate away the practice.  Still, how ironic that the tea-partiers are targeting an institution that (in fact) is completely self-financing! There is no "tax-waste" going on, at all. The underlying motive, then? That many of the exporting companies - like Boeing - tend to be technological and therefore Democratic-friendly.

== Back to immigration ==

But let's return to today's core topic. Our absurdly wrong cliches about immigration. Let me put it plain. 

Democratic presidents always beef up the U.S. Border Patrol and reduce illegal immigration, while GOP presidents almost always cripple the Border Patrol and open the floodgates of illegals. It is right there in the budgets and manpower figures, with one exception --

-- that G.W. Bush started down the usual GOP path, slashing Border Patrol funding during his first 6 months in office… but then had to increase it, prodigiously, after the traumas known as 9/11.

WAR-ON-REASONIf you actually thought about it, you would understand why both parties’ actions regarding immigration run diametrically opposite to their reputations and rhetoric. Dems actually benefit from LEGAL immigration, which increases the potential numbers of loyal union members and eventual voters. Hence, in fact, democrats have always been softies about increasing the flow of fully sanctioned and documented immigrants. Again, it is legal immigration that democrats have always favored.

Unions do not want illegals undermining wages… which is something the top GOP masters do want. Again, just so your mind cannot evade the cognitive dissonance, dig it well: democratic presidents beef up the Border Patrol and are actually pretty fierce with deportations. This was true of Carter, Clinton and Obama. 

If you hate the ethnic changes taking place in America, fine, but go after the dems for legal immigration, which they did open wider, and stop obsessing on the much smaller illegal influx, which democrats actively combat and which your own party has relentlessly aided and abetted. 

(But if you are that kind of person, logic is wasted on you, anyway.)

Do you start to see the picture? How often what the parties do will run diametrically opposite to the malarkey they feed their rhetoric constituencies? And more the fool you are, for falling for it. 

Go listen to Weird Al sing "Everything you know is wrong." Acceptance is the beginning of the road to openminded recovery.

== Another "opposite" ==

Deregulate-WordMore examples? The same cognitive dissonance between cliched expectation and reality can be found in “de-regulation of excessive government bureaucracy.”

Which party talks and talks and talks about that? About eliminating overly burdensome and competition-reducing rules and agencies? Which one wants to ease the burdens of over-regulation? You think you have that sussed?

 Ah, Republicans do talk about de-regulation, incessantly. But does the GOP ever do anything about it? Even during the many years (e.g. 2001 through 2009) when they held every lever of power -- executive, legislative and judicial?  Go on, name those great de-regulatory feats that came about during those years. Take your time and be thorough. We can wait right here till you get back....

(Be sure - while you're at-it - and ponder the half a trillion dollars in no-bid "emergency" contracts that the Bush-Cheney Administration signed with family-crony companies. Ah, the party that favors free-market competition.)

In fact: ironically, it was the democrats who disbanded the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) that Ayn Rand deemed the worst example of “captured” government, helping railroad moguls to collude and destroying market vigor. It was democrats who disbanded the horrid old Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and restored airline competition. 

Democrats performed the single greatest act of de-regulatory unshackling in human history, when they unleashed the wild-open Internet upon the world, with almost no supervision or regulation at all! (It was Sen. Al Gore's bill that did that.)  Not to mention lesser events, like Obama opening U.S. space-launch services to competitive bidding. Or the largely-liberal-led efforts, in many blue states, to rein in - at long last - the horrifically insane regulatory madness called the War on Drugs.
In fact, Democrats did nearly all of the major U.S. deregulations of the last century... except in one industry.

Finance. Wall Street and banking. I will grant that Republicans have actually put their de-regulatory rhetoric into practice in that one sector. Not once but many times.  

Now, some critics have claimed that regulation of finance is desperately necessary to prevent collusion, cheating and massive raids on our economy. Adam Smith as much as said so. Indeed, rampage raids on our wallets -- with accompanying market collapse -- did happen right after every GOP-led slashing of supervision in securities and finance, especially in the 1920s, the 1980s and the mid-2000s. A cynic might conclude that's the goal! But let us at least admit that this is a counter-example to my assertion - that Republicans never actually de-regulate. Securities and finance: there is an industry where the GOP did follow up their rhetoric with action.

And let me further avow that democrats are also the fellows who eagerly rush to apply new regulations! For every time they slashed an agency or rule, they surely compensated by legislating two, somewhere else.  Liberals are like that. And sure that's one cliche truism that does have some validity. I do have a libertarian side and it squirms when I see progressives declaring a need for solutions! Then following that with a demand that each fix be... well... meddlesome.

Elsewhere I have attributed this frenzy of erecting - and demolishing - tweaks upon society to a matter of personality.  Democrats and liberals are not so much statists as they are manic, constantly having to do something about problems!  Yes there are problems. Still, the manic trait is at-best... grating.

Moreover, personality explains why Republicans grumble so much, but never actually do anything, leading the laziest and most useless Congresses in U.S. history.  They are the depressive side of our national bipolar disorder.

== Why does no one ever notice? ==

Rhetoric-symbolismAnd so the question is raised… why do all the pundits and journalists and pols and online yammerers never even glance at any of these horridly opposite-to-true cliches?  

Again, the answer is simple. Rhetoric and symbolism always trump fact-based appraisal. 

Left wingers do not want to face the fact that democratic presidents are strong at the border and fiscally cautious, and sometimes retire obsolete programs. Tea Partiers would rather rail against illegal immigration -- a problem that their party leaders have always fostered, because it seems less racist and nasty to go after undocumented law-breakers than the much larger legal flood, which the democrats did set in motion!

We are slaves to cliches. And the news media is complicit.


Dwight Williams said...

Speaking of immigration issues in general, and the Republicans' Canadian allies' handling of the file in particular, might this particular court case re: health care access for refugeee-status claimants fit into your wider picture in any informative way?

Norbert Zillatron said...

i got some other "well known facts", that need serious reexamination:

Nicotine is extremely toxic and even small amounts can kill you
"30-60 mg of pure nicotine may kill an adult."
For obvious reasons LD50 experiments with humans are frowned upon. So, where does this number come from and is it true?
A toxicologist from Austria (Prof. Bernd Mayer, head of toxicology at the university of Graz) did some research: How much nicotine kills a human?
Looking at the number of fatal nicotine intoxication of the last decades reveals something astonishing: Attempting to commit suicide with E-Liquids: Witless!
So, if even deliberate attemps usually fail, what are the odds for accidental fatal poisoning?

Nicotine is highly addictive
Some even claim "It's as bad as heroin."
There are lots of studies that confirm that smoking tobacco is. But is nicotine really the one and only culprit as "common knowledge" would have it?
tHE expert on this topix, Prof. Karl Fagerström, has some doubts: Dependence on tobacco and nicotine
Even the manufacturers of FDA approved nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, etc. are allowed to claim, the nicotine in their products has a very low potential to create dependence.
Some studies suggest that
There is also serious doubt about the "known fact" that "continuing to use nicotine will keep up the addiction."
Thousands of anecdotes (including my own) show that people who switched from smoking to vaping the so-called "electronic cigarettes" lost a lot of the formerly known physical craving after a while. I had been smoking 2 packs a day for more than 30 years. About 2 years ago I switched to ecigs. After an hour without a cigarette I would be crawling the walls. Now after several hours of forced abstinence I'm just slightly annoyed.
A lot of vapers even reduce the nicotine content of time. Some even down to zero.
Does that sound like a typical drug addiction?

Now these "facts" are used as arguments to massively "regulate" ecigs. In the EU as well as by the FDA.

Greg Hullender said...

Erratum: where you say "prudery" I think you mean "prudence."

sociotard said...

Very late, but David, did you already comment on the ISEE-3? XKCD had a comic about how it was returning to earth, was still operational, and had fuel enough for one more mission, but NASA said it was too expensive to rebuild equipment to talk to it. The matter was actually brought up in Feb on your comments section. In the Comic, some Amateurs took over and did build the equipment and did contact ISEE-3.

And I just found out, well after the comic was published, someone actually did it!

David Brin said...

"prudery" was deliberate. I wanted a slightly negative connotation in that sentence.

Yes Sociotard, the ISEE-3 story is a great one!

Perry Willis said...

I agree. The Republicans are worse than worthless. I also agree that the Democrats have been better on regulation overall. I would quibble as to how much impact the supposed financial deregulations actually had on what happened, but there's no question about your central point -- the GOP is a completely crony driven party. Nice article.

David Brin said...

Perry, thanks. I know as a libertarian you and Carl M and others have some difficult re-inventing to do, for a movement that has been largely hijacked by the very lords who are most deadly to liberty.

I will be (risking my life?) speaking about this at Freedom Fest. Shall we be encouraged that at least a few of the organizers recognize the need for shake-up ideas?

I do not speak about these things primarily to praise the Liberals... though their manic need to solve problems is desperately important. What drives me crazy is that liberals have no sane counterparts for conversation, debate, negotiation, who are able to shout back: "Yes! There are problems! But the answers won't always be paternalistic ones! We demand experiments in harnessing human competition to solve these things!"

Goldwater used to shout that.

Unknown said...

David, do you ever do mainstream media? I'm not sure exactly what I mean by mainstream media. I don't even have a television and my online work/fun is mostly less main stream apparently. I'm not even sure what venues would get people who are not already in the choir to notice the messages you and some of the others I listen to/or watch put out but it seems to be that they are not here and in the other venues I do watch.

I am interested in trying to tackle this angle myself but have no idea how. I am not a scientist or even especially intelligent (I'm not stupid I think) but I wonder if there any way to engage with the regular folks. I've tussled with a few who show up on some of the sites I visit and most do not strike me as REAL people. That is, they seem like shills (I don't know or even believe they're being paid) but they do not seem like normal ordinary people. I've often wanted to reach the regular people in the RED communities to see if they could be talked to. My own family is well within the local red community of upstate NY. the way they talk is very different from what I hear from the shill-like type I see on-line. Any ideas how to reach out to these REAL people?

Brother Nihil said...

In other words, what you want is a controlled opposition, a conservative faction that plays the role of designated losers in the inevitable march of Progress. It's like a Star Trek episode, where the evil anti-Federation reactionaries always lose in the end.

The problem is, this is not politics, but a puppet show. Real political opposition means fundamentally challenging the ideas and power structures that be, transgressing their rules, and being willing to use violence. Without that, we are living in a soft dictatorship, and “progressivism” becomes just another form of totalitarianism.

Unknown said...

I don't think progress requires violence or confrontation. I think my family (tea partiers almost all of them in one way or another) see reason in various aspects of progress. My family is unilaterally pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage. Immigration and gun control are harder items to discuss. In other families there may be other venues of agreement and disagreement. I suspect there are other reasonable opinions out there but getting a hold of these people to talk to them and find our common ground is important but does not require hostility.

Unknown said...

I do realize there are greater forces out there than the common man but the common man needs to have this revealed to him/her before they can do anything about it. I am curious how to start dialogues with others like my family out there. Most people are somewhat reasonable when you talk to them like human beings.

David Brin said...

Brother Nihil, your attempted strawman of my position would be hilarious, if it weren't so typical of the lobotomization that has taken place across the far-left and the entire right.

People who want to argue fairly or accomplish something try to PARAPHRASE their opponents... by offering up "do you mean this?" rephrasings of their opponents' position, actually trying for accuracy. It is beneficial because it proves you have actually listened well enough to counter the other person's real position.

You demonstrated, instead, the exact opposite, creating a strawman caricature that you erect IN ORDER to make the shoot-down incredible easy. One problem with that approach... your strawman is Waaaaaay over there and has nothing to do with me, or anything I said.

In fact, I miss Goldwater and Buckley, who enjoyed vigorous arguments with top opposing minds. Sometimes a result was negotiated compromise or win-win-overlaps. Sometimes they converted enough opponents to their perspective that some silly-ass, statist meddling bullshit was stopped in time.

And the left CAN propose such things! School Bussing for integration was the single stupidest left wing obsession I ever saw, equivalent in insanity to almost anything ever perpetrated by the right.

Do I want the liberal/manic side to win a lot of the time... though moderated and revised by adult-conservative input? Sure. Because we face a vast array of problems and I want my children and their planet to live.

Do I fear the left? Also yes. And the insatiable greed of numbskull oligarchs is driving an increase in lefty radicalism that might someday rise to french revolution levels. I don't want that. I want apolitical system that works.

And beyond a shadow of a doubt, 99% of the fault for the sabotaging of normal, pragmatic American genius at problem solving is rooted in the Murdoch-Koch-Saudi-owned monstrous thing that has hijacked the once-noble Republican Party.

matthew said...

David, it is not "lefty radicalism" that will set the tumbrils a rolling along in the USA. Our Brother Nihil here says it explicitly when they say that real political change requires "being willing to use violence." Over the last few months I have heard this type of talk repeatedly from our domestic right wing. Salivating at the chance to go shoot fellow Americans in the defense of their dying culture.

From Fox not so subtly encouraging the Cliven Bundy-ites to use force against the BLM, to the elected officials in Texas making noises about sessession, to the Oathkeeper movement that is so active in our non-commissioned service members, the right wing is getting closer and closer to starting an actual, real shooting Civil War II.

Except it will be the cities against the rural areas, not the North versus the South.

Just a couple of months ago I was laughing about our culture war. Now, I give it a 5% chance of a Pol Pot-style "kill all the educated folks."

Oh, and you rural types - keep this in mind. You may have more little pop guns to start with, but it takes a metallurgist to make a cannon.

David Brin said...

...and where do you plan to get your immunologists, when plagues start rolling?

Dwight Williams said...

And if it does come down to a shooting war, how long before Canada and/or Mexico gets dragged into it, as either refuges or staging grounds for the second or third phase of the mess? Or as future targets for whoever's left standing?

Or, perhaps, all of the above in due course...

Jerry L said...

Saying that democrats beef up border security doesn't really impress me. I realize that Arizona governor Brewer scored points with the Tea Party by scolding President Obama for not guarding the border, even after he assigned more border patrolmen than she had requested, so Republican hypocrisy remains supreme, but why so much focus on the border crossers and not the people anxious to employ them.

From the risk they are willing to take, I assume the illegal immigrants have little to lose and being captured by a relatively benign boarder patrol and sent home is not going to be much of a deterrent. The soft white underbelly of illegal immigration is the US employers, without them we'd just have an illegal tourism problem, and I don't think we would have that for very long.

The courts have determined that states can't impose significant punishment on employers of illegal immigrants, but (somewhat rhetorical question) what's stopping the federal government?

Brother Nihil said...

Show me a successful political movement that didn't have the threat of violence behind it. It's not how the world works; it's a fantasy.

When you guys casually say things like "their dying culture" and suggest that an entire demographic is doomed, as leftists love to do these days, it's a statement of violence.

The reality is that this demographic is under a relentless assault by almost the entire American elite class, but if you haven't walked in their shoes, you probably don't see it. It's a two-way street; they are attacking those who attack them. The vile treatment of "tea baggers" by people in the liberal media should make this all-too apparent. It's a legitimate revolt by people who have been ignored and denigrated for a long time.

When people are told that their culture is dying and they having nothing to look forward to but decline and extinction, what alternative are you giving them but violence? Obviously, they need to change the narrative or secede by any means necessary. So if there is violence, it's not going to be the "tea baggers" who started it; they're just defending themselves against what amounts to liberal racism and cultural genocide.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Brother Nihil,
"what alternative are you giving them but violence?"

Your logic is that of the rapist
- She wouldn't have sex with me so what could I do -
Or the Terrorist
- Its your fault I killed those people you didn't give in to my demands fast enough -

Dwight Williams said...

Let's cut to the real chase here. The real ultimatum is this: "Refuse to be our slaves and it's on your head."

Dwight Williams said...

Am I wrong to say that?

Tony Fisk said...

Nihil, go and read 'A Force More Powerful'. You will find accounts of, not one, but several political movements who achieved their aims through non-violent methods.

David Brin said...

I agree with Nihil that the confederacy has always been motivated by a sense of looming extinction. The plantation owners knew that their recreation of old world feudalism was doomed, for dozens of reasons... so they raged. And tutored the poor whites to share the sense of oppression, till a million of them willingly and bravely marched off to die defending a way of life that poisoned all possibility they, themselves would ever advance.

It is called romanticism. The Nazis and Soviets leveraged it, as well. Romantic vs. enlightenment is a far more useful "axis" than the insane "left-right" axis ever was. Indeed, belief in left-versus-right is an almost certain proof of low IQ.

Another manifestation is nostalgia vs ambition. Or belief in a past golden age vs building a new one. These "axes" correlate pretty strongly with another one... the zero sum personality vs those who believe that combinations of cooperation and competition can engender Positive Sum Games.

So yes, I well understand the personality factors and fears that propel culture war. That enable our confederate brothers to actually tell themselves that they have a better, more moral and successful way of life, despite the fact that they score lower on every conceivable metric of morality and decent living, from violence, to teen sex and pregnancy and STDs and drug use, alcoholism, wife-beating...

Reciting such a long, long list will never convince a confederate to back down and consider that maybe something is wrong with the line the plantation owners have fed him. Because he does have one admirable trait, exhibited by those 1860s rebel soldiers.

Loyality. He will fight on, against his best interests... for Lord Rupert. For the Dukes of Koch. And for the Sa'aud'i royal house.

A.F. Rey said...

When you guys casually say things like "their dying culture" and suggest that an entire demographic is doomed, as leftists love to do these days, it's a statement of violence.

When you speak about a dying culture, you first have to determine what is killing it.

While you like to tell yourself it is oppression from the "elites," it could be something far more fundamental. It could simply be that reality is driving people away.

Climate change denialism, evolution denialism, extreme capitalism, extreme gun control opposition--all of these positions fly in the face of facts. People will drift away when they realize that these things are not as true as they've been told.

Worse, the hard line on these issues tend to disenfranchise those that don't adhere to every party line. The way Eric Cantor, a strong conservative, was tossed out for not being conservative enough is an excellent example.

The current conservative culture is going to die, not because of any imposition of will from outside the movement, but from the weakness of the movement itself. From its delusions about reality, and from its absolute demands of strict adherence to all of its principles.

Violence isn't causing that. And violence can't stop it.

matthew said...

Brother Nihil says "The reality is that this demographic is under a relentless assault by almost the entire American elite class, but if you haven't walked in their shoes, you probably don't see it."

Well, I was raised around white supremacist survivalist types as a kid. David would call them "Holnists" in The Postman, and put their dark homeland in southern Oregon. I grew up in that exact tribe, in that exact place. At 12 years old my left ear was pierced using an Hudson's' Bay awl when I got my mountain man name. David got a lot of the details just right in his dystopia.

I lived my teenage years in rancher country on the border between New Mexico and Texas. I heard people griping about BLM grazing fees 30 years before Fox tried to make it a cause. Sovereign citizens, jury nullification, militia freemen. I heard it all growing up. You are re-hashing arguments I first heard and rejected many many years ago.

I have "walked in their shoes." That does not change that theirs IS a dying culture, obsessed with a past that never was, blind to a future of possibilities and very real new threats. My personal estimation is that DB's reciprocal transparency is our best hope for a free future. That's why I am here now, spending my time answering you, Brother N.

Does my calling a culture "dying" represent a threat of violence? I left that culture behind. Lots of us have. I don't remember doing any violence on the way out the door. I voted with my feet as Heinlein would say.

What a nerve the right wing has! Taking up arms against your fellow citizens. Threatening to break all the toys rather than share. Spouting crap about no political movements succeeding without the threat of force. What a bunch of weak losers. Even with a bankroll the size of the resource extraction industry they are losing the fight of public opinion. Not because of any "elites," but because of the work of one million preschool teachers telling us that we must learn to share.

So, we come back to the threat of force. "If you won't let me live in my fantasy world, I'm gonna shoot you." Oh, just grow up. Seriously. Before the adults have to deal with your problems in a very stern manner.

matthew said...

This is one I missed, pointed out by Phil Plat at Slate. In late May, the Republicans in the House put an amendment in the Defense Spending Authorization Bill that forbids the Defense Department from spending any money preparing for the political consequences of climate change.

The Bill is now in the Senate.

Our military wargames all kinds of scenarios. Preparedness is part of the job of our military planners, and having a plan prepared is the first step to winning a fight. I expect that somewhere the US military has a plan to deal with a threat from just about any conceivable direction. Oh, but not waves of hungry and thirsty refugees from all over the world, not that. We cannot plan for that contingency.

Absolute treason. Ideologically-driven treason. There are no words to describe the depth of maliciousness at work here.

David Brin said...

Dang, Matthew, you are on, today.

In fact, I have long felt that one key driver of culture war has been fellows like you. In small towns across America, the high school is the center of life. And everyJune, at graduation, rural folk must watch the brightest sons and daughter hug friends... then skip town for the bright lights and (almost) never come back.

That implicit rebuke must sting! I believe it underlies the War on Science that has become hatred of all smartypants.

Alfred Differ said...

I suspect there is a non-violent way out of the culture war, but it takes time. It is the Hapsburg path to assimilation and the more we implement it, the more the loser in the fight should splinter into those who recongize the need to surrender and those who turn to fundamentalism.

We out-number them. Marry them and compete for how their children are raised.

Jumper said...

The Mexicans were challenged by the building codes. Say what you like about North Carolina but Charlotte fully integrated with the International Building Code (primarily a U.S. effort.)

The thing that's dying is ignorance in all scurrying forms. Nowadays you can find on Wikipedia 100 ways dishonest rhetoricians skew debates. I love this access.

Anonymous said...

Brin, why don't you just admit you're a Communist.

Dwight Williams said...

At the risk of both prolonguing things past their best-before date here and arrogantly speaking in defense of those who can speak for themselves perfectly well: Dr. Brin is not going to admit any such thing because it wouldn't be true.

(Just thought of a third risk I'm taking here: that I'm replying to an act of sarcasm. Acceptable risk, and one previously survived.)

LarryHart said...

Brother Nihil:

The reality is that this demographic is under a relentless assault by almost the entire American elite class, but if you haven't walked in their shoes, you probably don't see it. It's a two-way street; they are attacking those who attack them.

The vile treatment of "tea baggers" by people in the liberal media should make this all-too apparent. It's a legitimate revolt by people who have been ignored and denigrated for a long time.

"I know you are, but what am I?"

I suppose that if I walked in the shoes of the privileged class, I would understand that it's not enough to have most of the games rigged in my favor--that any attempt to level the playing field is an attack on me. Then maybe I'd understand why Tea Party types can feel abused by the media when every news outlet (not just FOX) fall over themselves to report on a gathering of 300 or so Teabaggers and let pro-union rallies of thousands in Wisconsin go unreported. Maybe I'd understand how cities and states all over this country enshrine Christian supremacy into law and not a single one does so for Jewish or Muslim or Hindu (let alone atheist) sensibilities, and yet Christians can feel themselves to be a beleagured minority fighting for survival.

But that's the right-wing strategy these days--turn everything around so that "standing for a level playing field" becomes an attack on the cheaters, collective resistance to bullying becomes an attack on the bullies' freedom, and a rising tide that lifts all boats means that the boats actually owe rent to those who claim ownership of the tide.

Nothing new here.

LarryHart said...

Brother Nihil:

Show me a successful political movement that didn't have the threat of violence behind it.

First of all, how about gay rights?

More to the point, you are willfully equating violence as a reaction to opression with violence in service of oppression. You're essentially arguing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws for the cheating scum--they have the right to use violence to "defend" themselves against their victims whose understandable reaction to their cheating threatens their well-being.


David Brin said...

Guys please don't use "tea baggers." It just ain't necessary. It is enough to know the irony, that the Tea Party consists mostly of confederates who believe in owner-lordship. In 1776 they would be the tories, loyal to king and the barons.

Tom Crowl said...

Congrats to Larry Lessig's success on his PAC!

I support his goals.

My only note is this:

My understanding is that "More than 50,000 people have donated $7.6 million to date."

And this is a good thing... Clearly many people want to see reform.

But from these rough figures that an average contribution of $152.

(the distribution would be helpful but I suspect that there were some biggies in there)

There's nothing wrong with that... but I note that he also suggests a need for systems for small donations.

Whether its 25 cents or $1 or whatever... a one-click capability will make a huge different in click-through and therefore levels and frequency of participation.

And perhaps even more importantly, I believe it alters the belief of the individual in their ability to (even in some small way)influence how they are governed... which is lacking without that belief that they and their fellows "add up to something".

Again congrats... I'd just like to see him aware of (and hopefully supportive of) a one-click contribution method as part of such a system.

Which as you know can have other interesting potential uses as in journalism.

Connecting it to a utility in politics may be useful in moving it forward for these other purposes as well.

Brother Nihil said...

The main problem here is something Dr. Brin displays in nearly every post: ARROGANCE.

The arrogant “Yankee” desire to meddle in every culture, both domestically and internationally, is what drives most of this hostility toward American elites. I'm not a Tea Partier; I'm educated and I've been all over the world, but I do sympathize with them, as I do with any culture that wants out from under this oppressive American cultural imperialism. What you guys call “progress” is for vast numbers of people on the planet a dystopia. Despite the best efforts of America's cultural-propaganda apparatus to convince the world that history ended with the invention of America progressive capitalist democracy hasn't succeeded. So the battles will rage on, until the Yankee empire finally succumbs to its internal contradictions and unsustainable ideology.

Personally I think the Chinese have the right idea, laying low and biding their time. Pax Americana is still strong enough to put a lot of hurt on anyone that gets too uppity. But for how much longer?

locumranch said...

Like most progressives, most of you are defining the term 'violence' in too limited a sense, partly because you imagine change to be both gentle & gradual even though it is not, meaning that 'change' (even of the most progressive sort) is 'violence' in that it inflicts injury upon the old (majority; order; system) in order to favour the new.

Back in the day, Genghis Khan pioneered the newest wrinkle in illegal (underage) immigration: In perhaps the most egregiously violent military technique ever devised, he drove women & children before his invading armies and used the weak & defenseless as a shield to gain entry, advantage and victory.

As evidenced by the Declaration of Independence, the Meiji Restoration, the 13th Amendment and the Treaty of Versailles (even TWODA & the Mayday superpac) to name a few, Change is violence, howsoever you choose to define your preference for it. At your own peril, never forget that (1) Violence begets Violence and (2) Push-back is inevitable, the greatest lie being that you commit that violence for someone else's 'own good'.

To the tool shed with you, for by whip or by switch, I intend to teach you the error of your ways until you (SMACK) think just like me ... how progressive of me.


David Brin said...

Jumping jujubes. Anger-addicts will always interpret other people as being similar to them. In fact, I bear no ill will toward my countrymen, for falling for traditional ways of thinking, that were once normal, in 99% of human cultures. Nostalgia, romanticism, traditionalism, loyalty to hierarchy, zero-sum thinking... these are normal.
Our future-oriented notions of open competition/cooperation, negotiated pragmatism, science

David Brin said...

CONTINUING... and flat, horizontal structures and positive sum games... these have been tried, rarely, in the past, but they are clearly abnormal.

Moreover I cannot guarantee they are sane. Certainly the Chinese, Russians, confederates, Shiites, Sunnis and so on all consider the enlightenment west, especially America and especially California, to be completely insane.

But is it "arrogant" to point to outcomes? In fact, no society ever accomplished as much. Not COMBINATION of other societies created as much new wealth, raised up so many children out of poverty, around the world, discovered so many truths of nature, delivered as much flat-equal justice, or engendered as much art or fun.

We ALL are "arrogant" in praising the things we like and disdaining those we don't. Nihil and locum are welcome to their own very angry and aggressive kinds of arrogance. Subjectivity is a bitch.

But there is one Objective thing and that is measuring outcomes. And by any metric you choose, that can be backed up with statistics and fact... things are vastly better in the world led by Blue America, than any parallel realms where any version of the confederacy prevailed.

Alex Tolley said...

@David Brin - I see you are on speaker list for the planetary society's Lightsail announcement. I look forward to watching the live streaming tonight.

As an aside - I was just looking at my copy "Project Solar Sail" (1990) that I have in my Arthur Clarke collection. I only just noticed after all these years that you were the managing editor for that excellent like book. It seems appropriate that you will be at the announcement after all these years.

Hope you have a relevant blog posting shortly.

Alex Tolley said...

@A F Rey - P Z Myers is taking on Michael Shermer from his Sci Am article. It isn't clear to me why this is "shabby Libertarian statistical games" as opposed to just "shabby statistical games".

It will be interesting if Sci Am (now owned by Nature) publishes any reader letters criticizing Shermer's article. Certainly the comments on the online version are almost uniformly -ve.

sociotard said...

who died and made you khaleesi: privilege, white saviors, and the elusive male feminist who doesn't suck

We repeatedly tell stories about a white protagonist who goes on a journey of self-discovery by mingling with exotic brown foreigners and becoming better at said foreigners’ culture than they themselves are. We eat it up in the form of faux-historical epics, splashy science-fiction special effects extravaganzas, and earnest nonfiction projects about writers paid by their publishers to take exotic vacations.

The frustrating thing about being annoyed by the Mighty Whitey trope—and there are a ton of people upset— is that it’s so frequently employed by the well-meaning “good guys.” The whole point of “going native” is that the familiar Western civilization is portrayed as inauthentic, ugly, broken, flawed. The “exotic” foreign civilization is somehow more natural, more primal, more sensual, the way people really ought to live. You know, hearing the wolf cry to the blue corn moon, painting with all the colors of the wind, like you do. Even though the Dothraki in Game of Thrones are painted in a decidedly uglier light than the noble savages of Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas, from the beginning they’re certainly more likable than the conniving, hypocritical Lannisters and Tyrells of the Seven Kingdoms.

What’s the root of this trope? Is it just that we get sick of living in modern society with McDonald’s and McMansions and mandatory vaccinations so we develop intricate fantasies about how much better life would be if we had to hunt our own food, build our own shelter, and develop our own resistance to dangerous microorganisms?

Sure, that’s part of it. But it’s less common that the “bad” Western civilization in these stories is something to be passively fled, a la Eat, Pray, Love. More often it’s an enemy to be actively resisted.

David Brin said...

Alex you are a true aficionado!
Sociotard, yes I really should find a place to publish my Avatar essay.

David Brin said...


Anonymous said...

Everything you know is wrong, up is down black is white and short is long!

Gator said...

@Brother Nilhil
"Personally I think the Chinese have the right idea, laying low and biding their time."

You need to read up more on what China is actually doing. Not laying low at all. They are agressively expanding influence into Africa, and into any resources near to the mainland. They've been actively stealing and importing IP for years.

"Change is violence..."
Some violence is actually violent though. There is the violence of hurt feelings and then there is the violence of clubs, machetes and guns. I don't have that much sympathy for the hurt feelings of the anti-gay marriage folk for example.

redbeard said...

"In fact, Democrats did nearly all of the major U.S. deregulations of the last century... except in one industry."

The repeal of Glass-Steagal was pushed hard by Bill Clinton's economic team, many of which (with vacations at Wall Street or Harvard) became part of Obama's economic team.

I believe we're screwed most when something is called bipartisan. That's when you know that the whole ruling class is behind it.

Trible said...

As far as songs to reference, I think Chumbawamba's "Everything you know is wrong" is a better one to reference than Weird Al's. It's more serious and less rampantly silly.

But, same basic concept.